Harvard University Top Questions

What should every freshman at your school know before they start?


I would tell myself to take things easy and plan your future based on what you really desire, rather than being preoccupied with or stuck in the present. In high school, I was always so worried about keeping my attendance, grades, and homework absolutely perfect that I ended up using all my time and eventually, I faced heart-related health issues . I never took the time to relax; I was just so absorbed with deadlines and time limits. These mistakes led me to finish high school early with a GED because of all the pressure I put onto myself. In the end, all those struggles I went through weren't worth it, because I eventually chose to quit instead of going to college the traditional way. Now, if I look back, I wish I could've done things at my own pace and taken the time to learn other things outside of school, like photography or dance, which are things I am passionate about now. Doing your best in school is always a great thing, but make sure to think about whether or not your actions and behavior will be beneficial to your plans and dreams for the future.


During the first week when you are not sure who to hang out with, introduce yourself to everyone and you will end up finding someone. Trust me. During the nights when you don't have any plans because no one has invited you to do anything, curl up in bed and enjoy a movie. Nights like these will become rare, trust me. During the weekdays when you cannot seem to concentrate, take a break and a breather. You will get through these stressful weeks full of work at every hour, trust me. During the meals you can't find anyone to sit with, pull out a book and eat. Everyone goes through that phase, trust me. During these seemingly dire times that won't seem to end, do not fret because they will end. College holds a plethora of opportunity and you will find your niche to fit in. Although those sad times don't seem like eternity at first, you will find that they will be quickly forgotten. College will open many doors for you, you'll meet all sorts of people and go to all sorts of places. You will have the time of your life, trust me.


I'd tell my high-school-senior self to be smart, but no, not just "smart" as she currently understands it. Like Wallace Shawn's character in 'The Princess Bride,' I've learned that the word "smart" (like "inconceivable") doesn't necessarily mean what I thought it meant. So I'd tell my high-school-senior self that smart means being attentive to quality over quantity—she doesn't have to be in every club, but instead, can devote herself to excelling in those that matter most to her. She doesn't have to take a leadership position every time one presents itself to be "successful"—she can invest her time meaningfully where it's most needed, where it most benefits those in need, and where there are the most opportunities for learning and growth. She doesn't have to bend over backwards to be the "smartest" according to the numbers, the test scores and the class ranks and the GPAs, so long as she's expanding her own knowledge and selfhood toward the attainment of her future goals through the experiences that she undertakes. "Smart," I'd tell my high-school-senior self, is all about the bigger picture.


Katie Foster! Study every chance you can! As good as your high school teachers were, they will be nothing compared to the professors ahead. Get involved too. There are so many things you can do, and by being involved you won't get so homesick. If you choose to go far off, take the first month and stay at school. That will also help with feeling homesick. It will take some time to adjust, but if you jump in and join groups it won't end up being so bad.



The best advice I would give to my high school self would be to never be afraid to ask for help. In high school, I prided myself on being independent, tackling every challenge I faced alone. Upon encountering new and more complex challenges in college, however, what I had formerly believed to be a strength quickly turned into my Achilles’ heel. Tasks that I handled deftly before, such as completing problem sets and juggling extracurricular activities, became much more formidable. I soon found myself barely being able to complete these tasks, struggling to maintain the level of competence that I had displayed in the past. However, I viewed asking others for assistance as a sign of weakness, believing that it was a concession that I could not handle my own problems. As a result, I struggled through freshman year. From sophomore year onward, I learned that asking for help was not only necessary, but also created a productive, collaborative environment in which everyone prospered. While I learned my lesson later in college, my largest regret has been that I did not learn this earlier, and I would highly encourage my high school self to get assistance from others whenever necessary.


Dear Ruby, I know that senior year is pretty rough, but better times are ahead. Try to focus a little bit less on the past and the future and start thanking God for your many blessings now. Also remember to open your bible a little bit more frequently. I know that a lot of God's word can seem harsh and confusing, but spending more time in it will provide you with a better understanding of His love for you. Maybe with that understanding you'll be able to start the long process of forgiving Marilu and Dad. We forgive because we have been forgiven. Don't you ever forget that. We are forgiven continuously because of his mighty love for us. Hold on tight to His hand. He'll get you over the biggest mountains. Love you, A Wiser You


The key piece of advice that I would give to myself is somewhat paradoxical: preserve the old, but embrace the new. In high school, it's easy to get caught up in cliques and upholding a reputation for yourself, but in college, make it a goal to meet new people and try new things. Take the opportunity to start fresh, from the people you choose to be your friends to the clubs and extracurriculars you decide to join. What you learn from the different people you meet and the exciting things you try will shape you into a wiser, smarter, and more cosmopolitan person. That being said, always remember to hold onto the values that are most important to you. Learn to be independent, strong-willed, and driven, and don't let others sway you too easily with peer pressure. College is about finding a balance between schoolwork, family, friends, and just about a million other things, but most importantly, it's about finding a balance between finding yourself and shaping yourself. Preserve your personality and the things that make you unique, but always be open to learning and embracing new lessons inside and outside of the classroom.


In high school, I equated maturity with perfect control over my life. So I set specific goals and worked diligently to achieve them, trying to never stray from my intended path. In college, the distinctions between school, social life, personal time, and world issues quickly broke down, and I realized the limits to what I could foresee. Seemingly out of nowhere, my friends would be in trouble - they were victims of sexual harrassment at school, or their relatives at home were ill - and I would be there to help them. Or, a hastily planned campus protest against rising student debt and income inequality somehow became national news. Suddenly, NPR and several major newspapers wanted to interview me, pushing me to make quick decisions about the direction of my own activism. College has at times been overwhelming, but on the whole I have never been happier. So, I would advise my high school self: embrace uncertainty, let the world take you by surprise, do something you never thought you would, and don't neglect to value the people around you. Through doing so, you will become more fulfilled, confident, and responsible and will gain a better sense of who you are.


Dear Claudia, As you enter Harvard take time to reflect on what has made you a successful scholar and now a first-generation college student. You have been relentless in your studies and you have devoted yourself whole-heartily to your community. Study the subjects that you have always loved and those, which you have never explored, but always wanted to. Embrace your brilliance in the humanities and social studies. The best students at Harvard have moved from the phase of self-doubt and uncertainty about their futures. The gift of knowing yourself is one possessed by few, even at Harvard, and having it will certainly help you make the best use of the wealth of opportunities that await you. At Harvard you will meet very friendly, interesting, and intelligent people. Now is the time to be social and to learn by experience. These are the people you have been looking for your whole life. The friends you make here will be like a second family, and once you make great friendships, Harvard will finally become a home away from home. Lastly, remember life is precious and only worth living if one is happy. Live life to the fullest.


Don't be afraid to try new things. You might be afraid of wasting time with something, but you must be proactive about your future to figure out the best path for you. You will be happy no matter where you go to college if you keep this in mind. Take advantage of the opportunities in your life, and don't be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Take advantage of office hours for professors and don't be afraid to major in something your parents would not choose or to admit when something is too hard to do by yourself. It might sound kitschy, but the more your believe in your own success, the more doors will become open to you.


Be yourself. Yes, at first being surrounded by peers who seemingly save the world on the weekends is intimidating, but they will love you for who you are. Make sure you keep a good sleeping and exercising schedule - it will help you more than you can imagine. But, most importantly, do not stress about your grades. Although there will be a ton of pressure from competitive classmates to worry endlessly over your grades, don't. This does not mean "don't study hard" or "don't worry about homework" - you will have to put in a lot of effort to get good grades, more than high school. But once you pass in your paper or finish the exam, let it go. When you study, don't panic. If you need help, get help, and don't be afraid to admit you don't understand something. There are so many things in this world that can go wrong, but grades are one thing you have control over. So, take a deep breath, do what you got to do, and get on with life. Because college may be the best four years of your life, you need to enjoy them, too.


As someone who has been very satisfied with their college experience thus far, there are only two pieces of advice I would give to myself if I could go back in time to when I was a senior in high school. Firstly, I would advise myself to focus on career opportunities, even if I am unsure about my potential major and career path. Experience in any field is better than no experience at all, and it would have been extremely beneficial to dive headfirst into an internship and develop a strong work ethic in the summer before I went off to Harvard. Secondly, I would stress the importance of trying new things in terms of extra curricular activities. While I am proud of the immense impact I've had on one major student organization on campus, it would have been even more gratifying (and educational) to take on smaller roles in other different types of organizations. Not only would I meet new people with different interests and talents, but I also would gain essential knowledge in fields I am not as skilled in.


It is not a s bad as you would think the most important part is to save as much money as possible and not to stress out to much because if you have determination it will all work out in the end.


Everything you're worried about now won't matter one year down the road. Really enjoy senior year, but honestly college is the best 4 years of your life. Get ready to have an amazing time!


College is the time to lose yourself and find who you are, try something new and fail, and form lifelong relationships. Living in a dorm with three people I'd never met before was a chance to reinvent myself and the rules I wished to respect. I made dozens of choices daily that were inconsequential but added up to a lifestyle. I messed up in some respects (letting physics take over and ignoring my messy room) but got other things right (visiting office hours and finding new ways to study). College is a low-risk arena to live life the way you want and adjust your attitude and actions based on the responses you get. However, college is also "the real world." The clock's ticking, and our (bad) impressions on people won't be erased. College is a marathon. The training you've done makes a tremendous difference, and if you don't keep running after knowledge, you'll lose the glorious 26 miles you've already covered. Ahe words of others via iPod or present company help me go the extra mile that's a part of college campus people have access to but don't necessarily use.


I attended a small high school, and so when I finally arrived at high school, it's fair to say that my world exploded. I have taken classes on subjects I've never explored before, including Japanese History, and all the classroom experiences have led me to consider a concentration in East Asian Studies. I've also learned what true dedication is. College is different in that you focus only on a few clubs, and for me, it's kendo and the Taiwanese Cultural Society. In both, I've decided to step up to the plate and undertake responsibilities as, respectively, equipment manager and educational chair. In addition, I've started creating connections with students, professors, and alumni that I'm sure will be of great benefit in the years to come. Since I've learned to reach out more, I've gotten so much excellent advice on everything from internships to science. I surround myself with kind, intelligent, and successful people, and because of that, I'm starting to change for the better. Finally, college has encouraged me to take better care of myself, since I've truly realized that a healthy body and mind is best for success.


My first semester at college allowed me to take independence to the next level as I chose from endless courses, making decisions based on my interests. The faculty is amazing--my life sciences professor created the famous animation, "Inner Life of a Cell," and pioneers modern day biochemistry. My global health class, in addition to being taught by Dr. Paul Farmer (founder of Partners in Health) and Prof. Arthur Kleinman (scholar in caregiving), invited some of the biggest names in healthcare to speak in lecture. And the best part of it all is that they care so much about undergraduate students (contrary to the Harvard stereotype) that they are constantly willing to discuss and share with their students. During the semester, I worked with my classmates and peers. I have become involved with the Harvard Pops Orchestra and Parliamentary Debate. As a result of this, I have become close with members of the most diverse student body imaginable. Not only are they from every racial, geographical, religious, and socioeconomic background possible, but they also have such a wide variety of interests. Altogether, I have made memorable connections with so many interesting and talented people, both in and out of class.


It has been a privilege to attend Harvard, primarily because of the intellectual discourse between students, which is unlike any I've experienced in my life. Thinking deeply about ideas isn't just a pasttime here--it's a social requirement. I have enjoyed interacting with my peers in both social and leadership settings; as president of Tuesday Magazine, the College's only general interest publication, I've learned how to manage and interact with people in ways both personally and professionally enriching. Volunteering with the Harvard College Democrats has introduced me to some of the most socially aware and active citizens I've ever met, and has allowed me to interact with the community in Boston and elsewhere. Still, the best part of attending Harvard is what it's famous for--its world-famous staff, who are uniformly engaging and happy to interact with students.


When I started attending school, I was skeptical ? was it really worth $40,000 a year? After my first useless meeting with my ?advisor,? and my first 300-person class with a professor who could write books but not teach, my doubts became very real. Those doubts were never corrected ? my academic advising during school was non-existent, and I spent most of my time in anonymously large classes. But that was never the point. Ironically, it was not my college, but rather my classmates who defined my college experience. Surrounded by their talent and motivation, I was inspired to overachieve. Their support and instruction as we struggled through an intense workload taught me more than many professors. And, most importantly, our shared experiences as we grew together into adulthood connect us for life. College gave me many opportunities ? some spectacular professors who revolutionized my perspectives, post-graduate opportunities I never considered that have enriched my professional development, and incredible staff and support resources to help me navigate a new life away from home. But it was my classmates that were truly worth the thousands of dollars, an investment in permanent friends and colleagues with priceless dividends.


Hi Vanessa. I see that you notice the resemblance. I?m you, me, five years in the future. I?ll prove it, at nine you developed you first crush on a boy named Sergio. He was dreamy. (sigh) I?m here because we?re, I mean, you are going off to college soon. I remember how nervous and genuinely concern I was at times. Your biggest questions at the moment are, will I succeed academically? Did I make the right college choice? For the first question I rather you find out on your own. As for the second question, in addressing it, I can give you the best advice I could possibly give us. There is no such thing as a right college choice, that would imply perfection exists, and there is not such thing. With that in mind, you won?t be perfect either. You are going to find yourself making a lot of mistakes throughout college. My advice, take each mistake as an opportunity to learn and grow as a person. After all, mistakes are a part of life; it?s from making them that we learn how to make things right. Lastly and above all, enjoy it!


In college, the depth and rigor of courseload is far beyond anything experienced in high school. Pick two subjects/classes, at least, during your senior year of high school and go far beyond anything that is taught in class. Buy a different textbook for that class and challenge yourself to get through it and do the problems after each chapter. You will be extremely prepared to develop a schedule and plan of attack for your course material once you actually reach college if you do this--putting you at a big advantage academically and socially!


I would try to convince my high school self that time goes by too fast when you are having fun. Of course, there will be plenty of stressful days, when papers and several midterms will be during the same week, or when all of my final exams end up on consecutive days. But I should look forward to meeting some really fascinating people, friends who will change my life, mentors who will open my mind. I will confide in my high school self that living with roommates will be one of the best things that will happen to me in college. It will give me the chance to experience what I have been missing by not having a sibling or cousin my age. I will tell my younger self to embrace all the challenges of college life, because when I get back to the dorm, there will be something uniquely amazing about having someone to talk and laugh with, whether in the middle of a long paper, on the way to breakfast, or late at night. Most of all, I will ask my younger self to open my heart and mind wide open for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.


College life is incomprehensible if you lack the experience for yourself. My experience at school has been one of innovation. The passion that inhabits every one of us will be extracted through the expression of your work. We need to be challenged in our thought, and the professors that will stand in front of each classroom are eager to participate in creatively instructing you to think objectively. Your professors are incredibly talented individuals. They pride themselves in the topic that they have devoted their lives to teach. Be advantageous when you have an urge to ask your professors questions in class and in personal meetings. Inquiry should never be thwarted by your apprehension and fear of being viewed as ignorant. Professors are thrilled when young minds are curious about their ignorance. Delve into class discussion without remorse. Surround yourself with competent peers because encouragement from those who have a drive to succeed will prove to be crucial in the development of confidence! Unlike your high school companions, you will be elated to find men and women that are attending to focus on their goals. These will be the friends that you keep for the rest of your life.


The clock keeps ticking and one does not get any younger. Work hard during the early years of your life and you will be able to enjoy the benefits for the rest of your life. Take every class and every assignment seriously. Your GPA builds up, start strong! Live up to your own expectations. Friends from your college years will remain your friends for life. Make a difference in someone else's life. Contribute to your community and well-being of its population. Have patience with those who are only taking space on the planet without contributing to humanity, and help them become something . Start your semester having already completed your reading assignments for the first four weeks. Stay focused and enjoy life.


If I could go back in time, and talk to myself as a senior about college life and about making this transition, I would tell myself to sign up for college as soon as possible. Sometimes you dont expect college schools to start registering at least three months before classes actually start, if you wait too long, that boat is going to set sail with or without you. Also I would let myself know that it is never too soon to start applying for scholarships, there are so many out there that your bound to get accepted by one. Even if the scholarship is only offering $50 dollars or even $10 dollars, it still counts because that money is not coming out of your own pocket. I made the mistake of waiting too long, but I will not make the mistake in pursuing what I want to excell in. If I could go back in time I would let myself know all I know now.


The first time I entered college I was 18 and eager to leave home and find my independence. At that time, I did not realize the true importance of focusing on my studies. In short I quickly became a party animal and just as quickly flunked out of school. The second time I entered college I was a 25 year old single parent who was climbing up the corporate ladder. Once again I entered the academic world unprepared and unfocused. Fortunately I received good grades but I ended up dropping out because the constraints of working and raising a child were overwhelming. Now at 46, I am stepping onto the college campus again. This time I am more prepared that ever because of the skills I have acquired over the years. A successful college career requires a balanced approach which includes discipline, self motivation, and intellectual curiosity mixed with the desire to have fun.


My first advice to my senior self would be this: don?t worry so much ? instead, channel all nervousness into realistic preparation and hard work. Some worries about college life, relating to such aspects as workload required and extracurriculars offered, need to be addressed as legitimate concerns, but the response should be purposeful study and active advice-seeking from knowledgeable sources rather than needlessly feeding anxieties. Another tip I would give myself: people you meet won't fit in the boxes you?ve created for them. While I may have thought that I would have to know everything there is to know about politics or pop culture in order to have a decent conversation with my worldly-wise college friends, my fear was unfounded. I've found that my peers are not only more well-rounded and diverse than I gave them credit for but also just as eager to make friends as I am, relieving much of the pressure I felt. Lastly, I would give myself the encouragement that college life is what I make of it. I have the great opportunity to solidify and expand my interests and to join (or create) groups of friends who share them.


In high school, my biggest goal was to get straight A's and be accepted to Harvard. I worked really hard and it was definitely worth it. However, now that I'm at college, I realize that college is about getting an education, but not necessarily just the education in textbooks. The best memories I have of high school don't include the awards I've won, but the moments I spent with my friends and enjoying the funny, quirky moments in classes. So the advice I would give is this: don't worry so much about being perfect. Yes, work hard this last year, but if you don't enjoy the last few moments of high school, you can't ever get them back. Talk to people you never have before; get to know your teachers better; spend time with your friends. College is about being open to new experiences and finding who you are by learning from your peers. Try coming out of your comfort zone, for college is about shaking up the world you used to know. The change will be scary, but the next four years will be the most exhilarating ride of your life.


Though I have no regrets about the college trajectory I am currently following, I would advise all high school students to enter college with an open mind. And open mind to making friends, joining clubs, selecting a major, and picking classes. Don?t be afraid to stray from your initial friend group and join the chess club or an environmental group- you?ll meet really interesting and diverse people and be a better person because of it. Stay active with your body by joining intermurals or a club sports team. But most importantly, stay open-minded! The most valuable thing I have learned throughout my first three years at Harvard is to be well rounded. Don?t let yourself get too caught up in one activity or class because there is so much in the world to try and experience. College is an incredible opportunity for young adults to dabble in everything and anything and high school-ers about to enter, should definitely be taking full advantage of it!


Just one piece of advice: Take economics. In economics I would have learned that the opportunity cost of something is what you have to give up to get it. And I would have realized that for many of the choices I made in high school--spending every night studying for exams, or eking out points on an assignment--the opportunity cost was much too high. Sure, grades are important. But after my first semester at a school where practically everyone graduated as valedictorian, I realize the true value of high school isn't the preservation of the precious 4.0 but rather the opportunity to make human connections and become comfortable interacting with others. Whether I?m interviewing for internships, making new friends, or working up the courage to visit my professor during office hours, I find myself wishing I had spent more time in high school getting to know people: talking with teachers and mentors, volunteering in my community, or even going to parties occasionally--anything to escape the stereotype of the bookish, reclusive intellectual. Studying cannot compensate for the importance of being confident and sociable; forgoing the opportunity to connect with others is simply not worth the cost.


If i could go back in time to my high school days i would tell my self to pursue college when I graduated. I think the main reason why I never went to college after high school is because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do it. This is only my second quarter and I really wish I would have not waited for so long to follow my dreams. I realize now that with a alot of hard work and determination I can do anything.


Dear Self, As a college student, I have some important advice. Read carefully. Open up. This includes peers AND (gasp) elders. Though it seems unlikely, professors do generally enjoy talking to their students. And though it's intimidating the first few times, I guarantee that you will not only get your money's worth (college isn't free), you will also gain important advice not obtained anywhere else. And talk to your classmates! Your experience will be so much greater if you make friends. Don't be scared; take initiative. Smile. Chances are some of them will grow up to be famous, and you can tell your grandchildren how you knew them or at least smiled at them once. Nothing is handed to you. College is filled with MILLIONS of opportunities at your fingertips, but YOU have to take advantage of them. Ask around for research opportunites; shop extracurriculars on your own. Choose your major based on interest, not job prospects. You will be so much happier if you do. Many successful people have great jobs with seemingly unprofitable majors. And lastly eat. Don't worry about the Freshmen Fifteen. I think it's a myth. Sincerely, Gina


Explore and don't limit yourself with any idea, notion, person, dream.


Try to separate the school itself from the name. Ask yourself instead, do I want to live in a city or more suburban setting? Do I want more guidance or do I enjoy the freedom to seek out those things which interest me? Am I good at juggling activities along with a considerable amount of school work? Am I excited to take advantage of the many resources available at this school? Do I feel comortable seeking help when I don't understand material or require guidance of some sort? If you like a fast-paced, high powered academic environment and are self- motivated then Harvard is the place for you.


Dearest Grasshopper, Take a deep breath and relax, for you have chosen well. These past few months at college have been some of the best of your life so far - but not for the reasons you anticipated. No, it is not the thousands of classes advertised in the course catalog you skimmed incessantly or the low student-to-faculty ratio you calculated. It is not the career path you have chosen or the calculus class you passed. Instead, it is the roommates you laugh with late into the night, your peers who are passionate, creative, and best of all, witty. It is the majestic, Harry Potter-esque dining hall to which you and your fellow freshmen flock for late-night study breaks. It is the a cappella concerts and guest lecturers, from Yo-Yo Ma to Al Gore, that pepper your calendar. It is the community you are immersed in - it is the home you have searched for. Step back from the websites, brochures, and statistics, open your eyes, and jump. The landing will be softer than you think. Yours gratefully,


I would tell myself not to worry so much, that I can do the work, and that I belong at the university I attend. I would say, "Be confident, work hard, and enjoy college, because it only lasts a short time, and you can NEVER go back." Furthermore, I would say to form and build relationships while at school, while maintaining the ones from home. Lastly, I would tell myself, "School is a place that you will learn about a variety of topics, but more so a place to learn about yourself. Have a good time, get your work done, and live it up!"


Well, my friend, you made it. All that effort has actually paid off--congratulations to you! I know (I was you, after all) that you're imagining college--what will happen, how the people will act, the classes--and getting ready for that experience. Trust me when I say you should throw your plans out the window. If college has taught me one thing, this past year, it has been that life is far too fluid for a high school senior to plan what his next year will be. Everything you assume will be one less thing you are prepared to deal with when things do not go the way you planned. So, what to do? Well, if I may humbly offer some advice--don't expect anything. Be like a child, as the Taoists say. Let life show you the doors before you plan on which ones you will be opening; just get out there and see what happens! If I were you, I would never have expected to be where I am now--and, as me, I could not hope for a better place to be.


I know you think of college as the opportunity that will free you from petty adolescence and cookie-cutter education. You think of it as your ticket to new worlds. True, you will discover many things. You will rely upon yourself to the point that you will tire of the responsibility. You will learn things you always wanted to know, and things you didn?t even know you didn?t know. You will learn so much that you will feel overwhelmed, and the hardest part will not be studying for an Italian midterm. The hardest part will be realizing that so many decisions are up to you and you alone. College will have its ups and downs. Early on, establish a new family of true friends. Trust yourself; it?s easier to make friends in college. Sometimes you will feel like an adult. Sometimes you will feel like a baby. This is OK. Call home when you need to, but make your own decisions. Take a deep breath and embrace college life as one opportunity after another. Take yourself seriously out of respect for yourself, but don?t take yourself too seriously because you?ll miss the world going by.


Dear naive, anxious high school Paige, In college, there is so much pressure to know exactly what field you want to pursue after graduation. Many of your peers have wanted to be a lawyer or a doctor since they can remember. RELAX. It's normal to not know what you want to do for the rest of your life when you are only 18- enjoy the ride. Take classes you truly find enjoyable and are passionate about, and the career ideas will soon follow. Additionally, take advantage of the great area around Harvard, explore the incredible city that is Boston. you may only live in Boston for the four years you are in college, so seize every opportunity you get to go to a Red Sox game, visit the New England Aquarium, and chow down on some linguine in the North End. Boston has a lot to offer, as do the incredible classes and faculty at Harvard, so just enjoy the ride. Your wise, older self, Paige


I would definitely have taken an easier courseload freshman fall and not participated in as many extracurriculars. At a school like Harvard especially, the courses can be extremely demanding and time consuming, and they require much more work and thought than even the most difficult advanced placement courses in high school do. I definitely would not underestimate the difficulty of classes, and would have dedicated much more time to getting this skillset hammered down. Once coursework management has been handled it is ok to proceed with plunging in the world of extracurriculars, employment, etc...


I would suggest reflecting upon your high school experience as a whole. Ask yourself what aspects of high school you enjoyed the most and why you enjoyed them. Also reflect upon different extracurricular, academic, and social experiences you had in high school and evaluate what interested you or what you felt were rewarding experiences. Part of going to college is realizing who you are and the self-identity that you want to create for yourself. You start with a fresh, clean slate. In college, you get to choose what academic area to focus on, what activities to pursue, and what kind of people you want to be friends with. Also, recognize that this is true for everyone entering college. It is a shared experience, the excitement, nervousness, and experimentation of developing your "new life". Consequently, this environment helps your ideas and ambitions flourish as you and your classmates support each other. In brief, entering college is a unique opportunity to discover and define yourself, where your personal goals can become a reality. Having thought about what kind of life you want to lead in college, you will enter college with more confidence and excitement to begin your new experience.


Learn time management skills while you are in high school. College life, unlike high school life, has a very loose structure, in the sense that you no longer have the same set schedule as you did in high school where you go to school at a certain hour and return home at a certain hour. Classes in college are often spread out over the course of the day, so you end up with blocks of spare time in between classes. If you cannot manage those blocks of time wisely, you will inevitably end up wasting the majority of your day. It?s important to learn to use every minute of your time as effectively as possible.


It's important to understand that there is a big world out there outside of your high school and even outside the college you will attend. There will be things that feel incredibly important -- some days it will feel like everything is crashing down around you, and other days will feel like you're on top of the world -- but always keep in mind that life goes on after high school and after college. Work hard (and for goodness sake, try to do all the reading!), but take care of yourself and your friends, because those things will be the most important.


I would encourage myself to 1) pay more attention in my math and science classes because it really helps out in the intro level courses, 2) read more recreationally because the required reading load in college makes it nearly impossible to read for fun, 3) improve as much as possible in whatever extracurricular activity that I'm doing (instrument(s), sports, etc) because being skilled at something comes in really handy in college where everyone else will come with some special skill other than academics up their sleeves, 4) say you'll keep in touch with current friends and teachers and MEAN IT because you never know when you'll need their assistance somewhere down the road.


Do not choose this place because of its name. And do not choose it because it is the "gold standard of American higher education." Because in truth, it is not. There are places, particularly small liberal arts schools, which in reality may give you a better education in the classroom. Do not choose it because the professors have big names. Take into account how far it is away from home...you do not know how difficult travel is until you have a 6-hour delay trying to get home for Christmas. Choose this place if you want to do research, if you want more extracurricular opportunities than you know what to do with, and if you want peers that challenge, inspire, and yes, at times compete with you. Choose this place if you are incredibly self-motivated and willing to seek out your demigod professors in their office hours. Choose this place if you want to be among some of the smartest most talented people in the world--and don't mind putting up with some of the arrogance you'll inevitably encounter from a few of those people along the way.


I would advise myself not to be so fearful of the opinions of others. During my first days at college, I refrained from acting how I wanted to because I was afraid of rejection. I have learned in college that being oneself is probably the most important ingredient to enjoying the college experience. Pretending to love partying when you don't, or acting as if you like people just because you are afraid of being alone is not the way to go. Accept who you, embrace it, and only then will you find your true friends and your favorite extracurriculars. College is so diverse. There is a place for everyone. Don't try to fit into a group that is not something you truly enjoy; instead, try to find the place where you belong.


Considering how quickly time passes, it is really a shame to not fully devote oneself not only to his or her studies but to helping others and being conscientiously involved in the world--all for the hopes of a better future.


Don't worry so much, you get into Harvard--the rest is easy.


Be yourself. Don't let the college atmostphere get to you, which can easily happen. You just have to remind yourself daily of the person you are.

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